American Mayors Visit Sister Cities In Israel
BETHLEHEM (AP) _ The mayors of six U.S. cities named after biblical sites toured the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Monday to get a closer look at the Palestinian uprising.
″My problems are nothing like this,″ said George Eggert, the mayor of Bethlehem, Conn., after touring a Palestinian refugee camp. ″I don’t have to deal with rocks, bottles and rubber bullets.″
Eggert and five other U.S. mayors visited the Deheisheh refugee camp outside Bethlehem as part of a tour of Israel. The visit is sponsored by the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, a pro-Palestinian organization based in Washington.
Eggert said the mayors came to learn more about the communities in the occupied territories, where Arabs have been staging a yearlong uprising against Israel.
Most of the mayors said the visit has made them more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
″I think I’d throw rocks too if somebody took half of my land,″ said Danny Allison, mayor of Palestine, Texas. ″It’s a shame we’ve allowed this to go unnoticed for so long.″
Allison said he hoped to get a more balanced view of the situation later this week, when the group is scheduled to meet with Israeli officials.
Ken Rehling, mayor of Hebron, N.D., said he got a first-hand look at the uprising on Sunday, when Israeli troops fired tear gas into a crowd of youths demonstrating outside his hotel in Arab East Jerusalem.
″This is definitely a long way from North Dakota,″ he said.
The other mayors are from Palestine, Ark., Hebron, Ind., and East Palestine, Ohio.